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Will Twitter Be Time‘s Person Of The Year?

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Time Managing Editor Richard Stengel, Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravesnthal, Barbara Walters and Tom Colicchio. Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Time Inc.

Last night, Time magazine managing editor Richard Stengel hosted a distinguished panel of guests to debate the question that always surfaces around this time of year: who should be Time‘s Person of the Year?

Stengel co-moderated the good-natured debate with former New York City Mayor Rudy GiulianiTime‘s Person of the Year in 2001. Panelists like Barbara Walters were encouraged to bring lists of possible Person of the Year candidates who met the title’s criteria, which includes having a global impact in the past year, for better or worse.

After running through lists of possible Person of the Year winners that included Bernie Madoff, Captain “Sully” Sullenberger and the Iranian protesters, the six-person panel ended the night in a three-three split. Walters agreed with TV personality Dr. Mehmet Oz and Gayle King that “the guys from Twitter,” meaning Jack Dorsey, Evan Williams and Biz Stone, should take the prize. Giuliani, “Top Chef” judge Tom Colicchio and Pittsburgh mayor Luke Ravensthal all voted for “the economy,” settling on some amalgam of Ben Bernanke and the unemployed American worker as Person of the Year.

Stengel didn’t give any hints about who would end up the final winner later this year, but we’ll see in a few weeks when the Person of the Year issue hits newsstands.

Read on for more of the panel’s suggestions.


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Walters, Colicchio, Guiliani and King. Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Time Inc.

Giuliani, an unabashed Yankees fan, said his first choice would be Derek Jeter. Later, when Stengel pressed him on Jeter’s global impact, Giuliani said, “It’s the World Series,” before quickly suggesting Series MVP Hideki Matsui instead.

Later, Giuliani suggested other self-proclaimed “right wing” candidates like General David Petraeus, Roger Ailes and Rush Limbaugh.

Walters suggested Nancy Pelosi, Steve Jobs, Michelle Obama, Warren Buffet, Google, the Taliban and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. But Walters also made a case of Madoff, “You put Bernie Madoff on [the cover]…and you’re going to have more discussion and more stuff and more people buzzing.”

Other suggestions came from Dr. Oz, who mentioned Patient Zero, the first person to contract H1N1, and King, who was the first to mention Twitter. Colicchio and Ravensthal both settled early on the economy, with the chef pushing for Timothy Geithner or asimilar government official and the youngest mayor in America suggesting the unemployed American worker.

In the end, all agreed there is no clear favorite this year. Who would you pick for Person of the Year?

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